Saturday, March 16, 2013

Wild about Garlic

Wild garlic (allium ursinum) is one of our favourite wild greens and is very prolific where we live in the south west of England. It likes moist soil and tends to grow in semi-shaded woodland areas in Europe, West Asia and the central and eastern parts of the United States. In Britain it grows abundantly in parts of Derbyshire, Cumbria, Wales, Devon and Somerset. Other names for it include ramsons, wood garlic, bear's garlic, buckrams, broad-leaved garlic and field onion. It appears any time from late January onwards and the leaves may last up until June. At some point in the spring beautiful white flowers appear which, like the leaves and bulbs, are edible. Later, the little white petals are shed to leave the green seeds which are also delicious in their own right.


 We use the copious green leaves to make into salads and soups and use the leaves, flowers and seeds in place of garlic in raw recipes. A rough rule for foraging is to take only 10% of what is available from any one plant and as the leaves are so delicious we leave the bulbs in the ground for the following year. After collecting leaves they may be kept in spring water to keep them fresh for up to about 2 days.

It may be useful to know that the characteristic garlic smell does not linger in the same way as with common garlic because the sulphur compounds in wild garlic leaves more readily bind to proteins. Wild garlic also has a greater concentration of minerals than common garlic, one of them being magnesium. This is why it is sometimes referred to as the ‘magnesium king’. Magnesium is fantastic for opening up avenues of detoxification in our bodies. But also it is anti-stress medicine strengthening our heart and our whole circulatory system. There are 1700mg of magneium per kilo of allium ursinum leaves.

Here are two delicious raw pesto recipes using wild garlic leaves:

Wild Green Pesto
25g pine nuts
20g hard goat's cheese/parmesan
6 handfuls wild garlic leaves
1 date
3 tablespoons raw olive oil
juice of 1 lime
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
blend all the ingredients together in a mini-blender.

Garlic and Pumpkin Seed Pesto
2 handfuls of wild garlic leaves
90ml  freshly squeezed apple juice or orange juice
90ml olive oil
60g pumpkin seeds, soaked in spring water for  few hours
salt and pepper to taste
blend the ingredients together ,until smooth.

And here's the soup!

Dream of Wild Garlic Soup
1 big handful wild garlic (ramsons)
2 tomatoes
2 sun-dried tomatoes
1 avocado
1 tablespoon or 15 ml lemon juice
750ml water
a dash of sea-salt
blend until smooth - you'll get the best results with a high-power blender or vitamix

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